For the past few days I have been photographing mostly in black and white. I’ve also been shooting manual mode rather than aperture priority mode and jpeg instead of raw format. It is quite literally back to basics. Shooting with manual settings is really easy for me because all of our film cameras have manual settings and its something I learned years ago. I can normally guess my aperture, iso, and shutter speed accurately and quickly. Black and white photography however is a much bigger challenge. I have gotten so lazy when it comes to composition because color photographs are really forgiving! In a black and white photograph you don’t have the pop of color to wow the viewer, you’ve just got the content and the quality of the light.
For many of my color photographs I look for really even, flat light because its easier to edit and the colors usually come out beautifully. So it has been great fun pushing myself to look for brilliant light again. In our old house and at my mom’s place I always shot with really dramatic natural lighting but in our new place I struggle to find the good stuff. What can I say, the light in our house is just plain crummy most of the time. This project is really forcing me to make the best it.
A lot of my fellow photographers believe that there is no point shooting black and white mode these days because you can do it all in post. However this project has reminded me of the importance of composing with black and white in mind. When you know your image is going to be devoid of color you have to see the world differently. The realm inside the viewfinder has to be defined by light, shadows, and simplicity. A healthy dose of drama doesn’t hurt either.
I will be the first person to admit that I struggle to give black and white the respect it deserves. I love the work of others but rarely do I think to capture it myself. Often when I do create in black and white its an afterthought or a lucky happenstance in post-work. I just love the world in color. I like the rooms in my house to be brightly colored. I prefer my hair to be red, green, blue or purple. I like my notebooks and my pens to be rainbow! I like my skies to be pink and orange with wisps of purple clouds and my ocean to be blue green. However, color is the vanity of the world and black and white brings out the real soul, the real poetry, and the real emotion that we so often miss.
None of these photos are very good but they are all unedited and hopefully when I finish this project (whenever that may be) I will be much better.